Weyerhaeuser to invest $157 million in Holden sawmill upgrade
May 14, 2021 | 8:53 am CDT
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HOLDEN, La. - Weyerhaeuser will invest $157 million in a multi-year, two-phase project to upgrade equipment and modernize its sawmill in Holden, Louisiana.

Phase one includes nearly $19 million to upgrade lumber kiln-drying capacity, while the second phase will include a major investment of approximately $138 million to completely modernize the facility. The news was announced May 12 by Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards and Weyerhaeuser. 

The work is expected to take place over the next three years. Plans call to upgrade and modernize the sawmill to produce longer-length lumber, add a new planer mill, and upgrade and add two new continuous dry kilns for increased drying capacity. Additionally, the company said it will build out the necessary infrastructure; upgrade computer technology, control rooms, and heating and fan systems; invest in environmental technology to meet current performance standards; and invest in quality and safety equipment.

“Sustainable forest products have long been an economic success story in Louisiana, where we plant more trees than we harvest,” Gov. Edwards said. “Weyerhaeuser has had an important role in Louisiana forestry, and these latest investments will extend that impact. By upgrading the Holden mill and adding the latest in industry technology to improve the facility’s competitiveness, the company will secure its skilled Florida Parishes workforce for years to come.”

“This investment is a testament to each employee here at Holden,” said Brent Mitchell, Holden interim mill manager. “It reflects a personal commitment to the highest level of performance, both operational and safety-wise, that each employee has. After years of planning this project, we’re excited for the sustained benefits it will bring to our people, our operation and the community.”

Through these investments, Weyerhaeuser said it will secure 119 existing jobs and create up to four new direct jobs. The project would generate an estimated 225 construction jobs, with an estimated payroll of about $25 million. Additionally, Louisiana Economic Development (LED) estimates the project will result in 12 new indirect jobs, for a total of 16 new permanent jobs for Livingston Parish and the Capital Region.

Weyerhaeuser currently employs 984 Louisiana residents in mill manufacturing sites and in forestry operations that manage 1.39 million acres of in-state timberland. Six months ago, the company announced a $16.1 million investment to upgrade its Natchitoches mill. Other Weyerhaeuser operations in Louisiana include a plywood and veneer mill in Zwolle; an oriented strand board mill in Arcadia; lumber mills in Dodson and Holden; timberland offices and operations in Hammond, Ruston and Winnfield; and a nursery and orchard in Taylor.

LED assisted in securing funds for the project. To help secure the projects, the State of Louisiana offered Weyerhaeuser a competitive incentive package that includes a $2 million tax credit, payable over five years, through Louisiana’s Retention and Modernization Program. The company also is expected to utilize the state’s Industrial Tax Exemption Program. The granting of ITEP incentives is subject to final approval by local officials in Livingston Parish, with votes expected this summer.

Acquired in 1996, the Holden facility is part of Weyerhaeuser’s lumber sector within its overall Wood Products business. The mill supports the residential housing, home improvement and construction markets.

Weyerhaeuser (NYSE: WY) owns or controls approximately 11 million acres of timberlands in the United States and manages additional timberlands under long-term licenses in Canada. The company is also one of the largest manufacturers of wood products in North America. In 2020, the company generated $7.5 billion in net sales and employed approximately 9,400 people 

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About the author
Karen Koenig | Editor

Karen M. Koenig has more than 30 years of experience in the woodworking industry, including visits to wood products manufacturing facilities throughout North America, Europe and Asia. As editor of special publications under the Woodworking Network brand, including the Red Book Best Practices resource guide and website, Karen’s responsibilities include writing, editing and coordinating of editorial content. She is also a contributor to FDMC and other Woodworking Network online and print media owned by CCI Media. She can be reached at [email protected]